Thursday, June 13, 2013

Canal di Cuna

Another glorious day so I made another attempt on Canal di Cuna.  It is a hidden valley in the mountains east of Tramonti di Mezzo which I've tried twice to reach.  After the beautiful ride up Val Tramontina I turned east at Tramonti di Mezzo and headed up a narrow mountain lane.  After some easy scenic riding you reach a killer stack of switchbacks; very steep, badly paved, and full of wheel-destroying drainage grates- my kind of place!  I gaspingly made it to the end of pavement, and then continued riding in the gravel until 790 meters.  I stopped and donned some Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro bike/hiking shoes I'd carried in my backpack, and pushed the bike up the gravel road to Forchia Zuviel at 897 meters.  In an abandoned settlement of stone buildings, I locked my bike to a signpost and started the hike down to Canal di Cuna.

This is a wonderful forest, so isolated I couldn't hear a single human sound, no chainsaws, distant traffic, nothing.  I did hear one prop plane in the distance on the climb back up.  It's tough to escape from airplanes.  The trail is very well constructed, with switchbacks to reduce the gradient. It levels out around 590 meters and after crossing a stream you enter a meadow.  Here you find the restored Chiesa di San Vincenzo.  For centuries families lived in Canal di Cuna, but eventually the population dwindled as people moved away.  After it was abandoned some of their descendants came back to visit, and finally restored the ruins of the church.

I climbed back up the way I'd come, taking 30 minutes to ascend 300 meters.  Came across a pair of large deer, the only souls I saw for 3 hours after leaving Tramonti.  My plan to descend by bike on the gravel road was pretty harebrained and I ended up flatting (3rd time in 2 weeks).  No big deal and maybe it made me extra-cautious on the rock-strewn switchback road down to  430 meters.    I stopped to fill a water bottle at the Spring of Life and Experience, which is a pretty fancy name out here in the middle of nowhere, but the water is excellent.   

Rode fast as I could all the way home.  Legs and fitness are feeling best so far this year.  Next time I think I'll drive to Tramonti and ride the mountain bike up to Forchia Zuviel.  The road isn't suited for a road bike past end of pavement at 700 meters.  Still a fantastic ride in this clear cool weather.


Beautiful Torrent Chiarchia 

Torrente Chiavalara's noisy whitewater cascade

Some of the ruins of old stone houses at Forchia Zuviel

Restored Chiesa di San Vincenzo in Canal di Cuna meadow

Viewed from the banks of Torrente Comugna, which
flows east to join Torrente Arzino below San Francesco

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